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Asbestos Awareness Program

Asbestos Awareness Program

1.0  Purpose

The purpose of this program is to provide information about asbestos, the potential health effects associated with exposure, and safety procedures that should be followed to reduce exposure and protect the health of employees.

2.0  Introduction

The word asbestos is derived from a Greek word that means inextinguishable or indestructible. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is found throughout the world. Major deposits, however, are found primarily in the U.S., Canada, Russia, and S. Africa. Asbestos has several characteristics that make it desirable for many commercial uses. The fibers are extremely strong, flexible, and very resistant to heat, chemicals, and corrosion. Asbestos is also an excellent insulator, and the fibers can be spun, woven, bonded into other materials, or pressed to form paper products. For these reasons and because it is relatively inexpensive, asbestos has been widely used for many years and now is found in over three thousand different commercial products.

Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause serious health risks. The major risks from asbestos come from inhaling the fibers. Asbestos is composed of long silky fibers that contains hundreds of thousands of smaller fibers. These fibers can be subdivided further into microscopic filaments that will float in the air for several hours. Asbestos fibers can easily penetrate body tissues and cause disabling and fatal diseases after prolonged exposure.

Although exposure to asbestos is potentially hazardous, health risks can be minimized. In most cases the fibers are released only if the asbestos containing materials (ACM) is disturbed. Intact and undisturbed asbestos materials do not pose a health risk. The mere presence of asbestos does not mean that the health of occupants is endangered. When ACM is properly managed, release of fibers into the air is prevented or minimized, and the risk of asbestos related disease can be reduced to a negligible level. However, asbestos materials can become hazardous when they release fibers into the air due to damage, disturbance, or deterioration over time.

The ability to recognize the kinds of material that contain asbestos, knowing under what conditions they are dangerous, and understanding basic safety precautions, are all important in keeping exposures to a minimum.

3.0  Types

The term "asbestos" is a name that refers to six naturally occurring minerals. The three types most commonly used in buildings are chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite. Chrysotile accounts for approximately 95% of the asbestos used in commercial products. Chrysotile is commonly called white asbestos because of its natural color. Amosite, known as brown asbestos, is the second most likely type found in buildings. It is hard to wet and therefore hard to control. Amosite is commonly found in boilers and pipes. The third type of asbestos is known as crocidolite. It is also know as blue asbestos or blue mud. Crocidolite is used in high temperature applications around pipes.

4.0  Identifying Asbestos

There are many substances that workers contact that may contain asbestos and have the potential to release fibers. Only rarely can asbestos in a product be determined from labeling or by consulting the manufacture. The presence of asbestos cannot be confirmed visually. The only way to positively identify asbestos is through laboratory analysis of samples. If the presence of asbestos is suspected always assume that it is an asbestos containing material and have it analyzed.

5.0  Friable Asbestos

The potential for a product containing asbestos to release fibers depends on its degree of friability. Friable ACM can easily be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure, releasing fibers into the air.

The white fibrous or fluffy spray-applied asbestos material found in many buildings for fireproofing, insulating, sound proofing, or decorative purposes are friable. Friable ACM is found primarily in building areas not generally accessible to the public, such as boiler and machinery rooms. For example, asbestos insulation around pipes and boilers is considered friable.

Asbestos that is tightly bound with another material is considered non-friable and will only release fibers if sanded, cut, or broken. For example, ceiling tiles containing asbestos, and asbestos-cement pipe or sheets will not normally release fibers unless cut or broken. Vinyl asbestos tile is also considered non-friable and generally does not emit fibers unless sanded, cut, or sawed.

6.0 Regulatory Programs

Both the EPA and OSHA control exposure to asbestos. EPA regulations are known as NESHAP (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants). These regulations specify control measures and work practices to reduce releases of asbestos into the environment. NESHAP regulations may require ACM removal before renovation and/or demolition projects to prevent significant asbestos releases into the air.

EPA has also implemented a separate regulation to handle asbestos materials used inside schools (grades K-12). This regulation is known as AHERA (Asbestos Hazards Emergency Response Act). The regulations require that all schools be inspected to determine the presence and quantity of asbestos. The type of corrective action such as removal, encapsulation, or maintenance in place is left up to the school.

OSHA regulations are designed to protect workers who handle ACM. OSHA has set standards for the number of fibers that a worker can be exposed to, called the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Current OSHA regulations have set a maximum workplace concentration limit of 0.1 f/cc measured as an 8-hour time-weighted-average. This is equivalent to approximately six fibers in a volume of air the size of a baseball. The time-weighted-average is calculated by dividing the total exposure for a workday by eight hours. Exposures over 0.1 f/cc are allowed as long as they are balanced by exposures under 0.1 f/cc. The standard includes requirements for respiratory protection, medical surveillance, and work practices to reduce indoor asbestos levels.

7.0  Uses

Asbestos has been used for over three thousand years. There was very little use for asbestos until the start of the twentieth century when it was used as thermal insulation in steam engines. Since then it has been used in thousands of products. Consumption in the U.S. increased to a peak of 800,000 tons per year in the early 1970s. Because of health concerns, however, consumption has dropped by more than 70%.

Asbestos gained widespread use because it is plentiful, readily available, and low in cost. It has several properties that make it very desirable to industry such as fire resistance, high strength, poor heat and electric conductor, and resistance to chemicals. These properties have made it useful for electrical, acoustical, and thermal insulation and products that resist fire, friction, and chemicals.

Examples of these uses include automotive brake and clutch linings, floor and ceiling tiles, plastics, asbestos-cement pipes and sheets, paper products, textile products such as curtains and gloves, and insulation for boilers and pipes. It is also present in sprayed-on materials located on beams, in crawlspaces, and between walls. The amount of asbestos contained in these products may vary from 1-100%.

Fireproofing

One of the most common uses for asbestos was as a fireproofing material. More than half of the large multi-story buildings constructed during 1950-1970 period contain some form of sprayed ACM. It was sprayed on steel beams and columns to prevent these structures from warping or collapsing in case of a fire. Asbestos comprised 5-95% of the fireproofing mixture. This mixture is soft and fluffy in appearance and to the touch and is considered very friable. The material may vary in color from white to dark gray and may have been painted or encapsulated with a sealant. Spray painting of asbestos was banned in 1978.

Insulating and Decorative Purposes

Sprayed or trowelled asbestos coatings generally have an asbestos content of 50-80%. The coatings were commonly applied to steel I-beams and decks, concrete ceilings and walls, and hot water tanks and boilers. The coatings were applied primarily for thermal insulation but also provided acoustical insulation and a decorative finish. Sprayed coatings typically have a rough fluffy appearance. Trowelled coatings have a smooth finish and may be covered with a layer of plaster or other non-asbestos material. Both sprayed and trowelled coatings are friable. Asbestos insulation board was used as a thermal/fireproofing barrier in many types of walls, ceilings and ducts or pipe enclosures. This material looks like A-C sheets but is less dense and much more friable.

Pipe Insulation

Pipe insulation for hot and cold water and steam pipes commonly contained asbestos. These coverings have an asbestos content of about 50%. This material is usually white and chalky and was typically manufactured in 3-ft long half round sections. The sections were joined around the pipe using plaster soaked canvas or metal bands. Asbestos pipe coverings are easily crumbled and are considered friable.

Boilers and Hot Water Tanks

Asbestos block insulation was used as thermal insulation on boilers, hot water heaters and heat exchangers. These blocks are usually chalky white, 2 inches thick, and 1-3 ft long. The blocks are held in place by metal wires or lath and are often wrapped in a plaster-saturated canvas. The insulation is friable and readily deteriorates in a high humidity environment or when exposed to water.

Cement Pipes and Sheets

Asbestos cement was used to form pipes and sheets. Asbestos-cement pipes have been widely used for water and sewer lines. It was also used for electrical conduits, drainage pipes, and ventilation pipes. Asbestos-cement sheets have been used primarily for roofing and siding. It is also used in cooling towers, laboratory tables and hoods, and electrical switching gear panels. Asbestos-cement products are dense and rigid with gray coloration. The asbestos in these products is tightly bound and does not release fibers to the air under normal use.

Building Materials

Asbestos is added to a variety of building materials to act as a binder and increase strength. It can often be found in concrete, concrete tile products, and plaster and may contain up to 50% asbestos by weight. These products are used in siding and roofing shingles, wall board, corrugated and flat sheets for roofing, cladding, partitions, and as pipes. Asbestos has also been added to asphalt, vinyl, and other materials to make products like roofing felts, exterior siding, floor tiles, joint compounds, and adhesives. Fibers in these products are usually firmly bound and are released if the material is mechanically damaged, for example by drilling, cutting, or sanding. Roofing shingles and siding may also show slow deterioration due to weathering.

Friction Products

Asbestos is used in brake and clutch linings on automobiles. In the past, asbestos linings accounted for up to 99% of the market. Although the asbestos is tightly bound, dust in a brake drum from worn linings contains high levels of asbestos. Non-asbestos brake linings have been developed and are replacing asbestos linings. Extreme care should be used when working on brake linings to ensure that the asbestos dust is properly contained.

Plastic Products

Asbestos was added to many plastic products for increased strength. For example, asbestos was added to vinyl and asphalt floor coverings, roof coatings, and some molded plastic products such as cooking pot handles. These products are usually tough and non-flexible. The asbestos is tightly bound and is not released under typical conditions of use. However, any sawing, drilling, or sanding may result in the release of fibers.

Paper and Textile Products

Asbestos fibers were also manufactured into many paper and textile products. Paper products containing asbestos include commercial insulating papers, gaskets, roofing materials, heat protecting mats and pads, filters, and tiles for walls and ceilings. Asbestos yarn is used to manufacturer fire resistant curtains, protective clothing, electrical insulation, thermal insulation, and packing seals. These materials may release fibers when cut or torn.

8.0  Health Hazards

The increase in the use of asbestos resulted in a dramatic rise in asbestos related diseases among workers. At first, asbestos was not regarded as a health hazard because it has no taste or odor, often cannot be seen, and causes no immediate health effects. Health problems however, developed over time in exposed workers. It was not until the 1950s that asbestos received widespread attention as a potential health hazard. The diseases associated with asbestos did not appear for 20-40 years after the initial exposure, making it very difficult to confirm asbestos as the cause. However, overwhelming evidence now exists that exposure to airborne asbestos fibers is linked to several serious diseases.

Exposure to asbestos can cause disabling respiratory diseases and several types of cancer. The main routes of exposure are inhalation and ingestion. Asbestos fibers cannot penetrate the skin. Asbestos has been shown to cause asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and cancer of the stomach and colon. The majority of people who died from asbestos exposure were exposed to very high concentrations of asbestos fibers at work and had little or no protection. These employees worked with asbestos regularly and for long periods of time. Examples include workers who held jobs in industries such as shipbuilding, mining, milling, and fabricating. Many of these workers were also smokers.

The most dangerous exposure to asbestos is from inhaling airborne fibers. The body's defenses can trap and expel many of the particles. However, as the level of asbestos fibers increase many fibers bypass these defenses and become embedded in the lungs. The fibers are not broken down by the body and can remain in body tissue indefinitely.

The Respiratory System

Since the primary health effects due to asbestos exposure are on the lungs, it is important to know how the respiratory system works. Air passes through the mouth and nose into the windpipe which splits into two smaller airways called the bronchi. The bronchi divide into smaller and smaller tubes which terminate into air sacs called alveoli. It is in these air sacs that oxygen is absorbed into small blood vessels and carbon dioxide passes out of the blood.

The lungs are surrounded by a thin membrane which looks like saran wrap. These membranes are very moist and slide easily across each other, but are difficult to pull apart. The linings are composed of cells known as mesothelia cells. Interaction of asbestos with these cells can result in a cancer called mesothelioma. If the linings are damaged, inhalation cannot occur properly.

The body has several mechanisms to filter the air we breathe. Large particles are trapped by the hairs in the nose. Smaller particles impact on the mucous coated walls of airway and are caught. The airway has hair-like linings (ciliated cells) which constantly beat upward. Dust particles caught in the mucous are swept upwards into the back of the mouth and swallowed. Cigarette smoking temporarily paralyzes these hair-like projections preventing them from discharging the dust particles. This is one reason cigarette smokers who work with asbestos are at increased risk.

Particles reaching the tiny air sacs are engulfed by large cells called macrophages. However, because asbestos is a mineral fiber they are often unsuccessful. When this occurs the macrophages deposit a coating on the fiber and may form scar tissue around it.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a non-cancerous chronic respiratory disease caused by an accumulation of asbestos fibers in the lungs. The fibers cut the air sacs and cause scar tissue to form. Even after exposure to asbestos has stopped, scar tissue will continue to form around existing scar tissue and fibers in the lungs. The scarring reduces the capacity of the lung to take in air resulting in shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue. As the disease worsens, shortness of breath occurs even at rest. In severe cases death may be caused by respiratory or cardiac failure.

Asbestosis is typically found in workers who have been exposed to large doses of asbestos over a long time. The greater the asbestos exposure the more likely asbestosis will develop. It may take 15-30 years for the disease to develop. Because the presence of asbestosis indicates that workers have been exposed to a large dose of asbestos, they are at greater risk for lung cancer.

Lung Cancer

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. Symptoms include a cough, chest pain, and blood-streaked sputum. The pain is usually felt as a persistent ache unrelated to the cough. Lung cancer has a latency period of 15-20 years. Exposure to asbestos and cigarette smoking combine to create a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer than would be expected from each substance alone. A smoker exposed to asbestos may have 50-100 times the risk of developing lung cancer compared to a non-exposed non-smoker.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer of the thin membrane lining the chest and abdomen. Most incidences of mesothelioma have been traced directly to a history of asbestos exposure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, pain in the walls of the chest, or abdominal pain. Mesothelioma spreads very rapidly and is always fatal. It has a latency period of approximately 40 years. Mesothelioma is more likely to be found among workers who were first exposed to asbestos at an early age, such as in school.

Other Diseases

There are no known immediate effects associated with exposure to asbestos. There is no evidence that asbestos fibers can penetrate the skin. However, some workers have experienced irritation and a rash from exposure. There is some evidence suggesting that swallowing asbestos fibers may cause cancers of the digestive tract and may be carried to other parts of the body after being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Risks Associated with Low-Level Exposure

Asbestos is a known hazard based on studies of asbestos workers and laboratory animals exposed to high doses. However, the risks associated with low level non-occupational exposure (e.g., an occupant of a building containing ACM) are not well established. Risks from low level exposure are based on extrapolation from workers exposed to high levels of asbestos and may not be reliable.

Based on a review of the literature EPA concludes that there is no safe or threshold level of exposure. Since asbestos fibers accumulate in the lungs, the risk of disease increases as exposure increases. Theoretically any exposure could result in an asbestos related disease. Although the risk at very low exposures may be negligible, measures to reduce exposure and the accumulation of fibers should be followed.

9.0  Safe work practices - Reducing Exposure

Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program

An Operation and Maintenance Program is designed to manage asbestos in place to safeguard the health of building occupants. This is accomplished by training, cleaning, work practices, and inspections to maintain ACM in good condition. Removal is often not the best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. The O&M program is designed to prevent asbestos fiber release and control fiber releases if they occur. A well-run O&M program may be all that is necessary to control the release of fibers. Emphasizing the importance and effectiveness of a good O&M program is critical to putting the potential hazards of asbestos exposure in proper perspective. That effort centers on communicating the following five facts to employees:

  1. Although asbestos is hazardous, the risk of asbestos-related disease depends upon exposure to airborne fibers. An individual must breathe asbestos fibers in order to develop an asbestos-related disease. How many fibers an individual must breathe are uncertain. However, at very low exposure levels, the risk may be negligible or zero.
  2. The average airborne asbestos level in buildings is very low. Therefore, the health risk to most building occupants will be very low. An EPA study in 1987 found asbestos air levels in buildings to be essentially the same as levels outside. Based on that data, most building occupants (i.e., those unlikely to disturb ACM) appear to face only a very slight risk, if any, of developing an asbestos-related disease.
  3. Removal is often not the best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. In fact, improper removal can create a dangerous situation where none previously existed. Asbestos removals tend to elevate the airborne level of asbestos fibers in a building. Unless all safeguards are properly applied, a removal operation can actually increase rather than decrease the risk of asbestos related disease.
  4. EPA only requires asbestos removal during building demolition or renovation activities. This is done to prevent significant public exposure to airborne fibers.
  5. EPA recommends a proactive, in-place management program whenever ACM is discovered. In place management does not mean "do nothing." It means having a program that reduces the release of asbestos fibers, and ensures that proper controls and cleanup procedures are implemented if fibers are released. If in doubt about the possibility of disturbing ACM during maintenance activities, adequate precautions should be taken to minimize fiber release.

    Basic O&M procedures to minimize and/or contain asbestos fibers may include wet methods, HEPA vacuuming, area isolation, PPE, and avoidance of certain activities, such as sawing, sanding, and drilling ACM. The need for these practices varies with the situation. For example, removing light fixtures located near ACM may disturb the material and might involve the use of special cleaning, area isolation, and respiratory protection. Periodic emptying of a trash can near asbestos containing plaster may not disturb the material, so special work practices would be unnecessary.

    ACM may readily release fibers into the air when certain mechanical operations are performed directly on it. For example, fiber release can occur when workers are drilling, cutting, sanding, breaking, or sawing vinyl asbestos floor tile. Maintenance or repair operations involving those actions should be eliminated or carefully controlled to prevent or minimize asbestos fiber release. Certain activities that occur near ACM can also cause damage which may result in asbestos fiber release. For example, maintenance and custodial staff may damage ACM accidentally with broom handles, ladders, and fork-lifts while performing other tasks. Activities performed near ACM should always be done in a way that minimizes fiber release.

    The O&M program should include a system to control all work that could disturb ACM. The person requesting the work should submit a Job Request Form to the Asbestos Manager before any maintenance work is begun that could disturb ACM.

Informing Building Occupants and Workers

Owners should inform occupants and workers about the location of ACM and stress the need to avoid disturbing the material. Occupants should be notified because they are less likely to disturb the material and cause fiber release.

In maintenance areas (such as boiler rooms and equipment rooms) signs should be placed directly next to boilers, pipes, and other equipment to remind maintenance workers not to disturb the ACM. As an alternative, color coding can be used to identify ACM if all potentially exposed workers understand the coding system.

The information given to building occupants should contain the following points:

  1. The location, condition of the ACM, and the appropriate response.
  2. Asbestos only presents a health hazard when fibers become airborne and are inhaled. The mere presence of ACM does not present a health hazard.
  3. Do not disturb the ACM.
  4. Report any evidence of disturbance or damage of ACM to supervision.
  5. Report any dust or debris that might come from the ACM or any changes in the condition of ACM to supervision.
  6. Cleaning and maintenance personnel are taking special precautions to properly clean up any asbestos dust and to guard against disturbing ACM.
  7. All ACM is inspected periodically and additional measures will be taken if needed to protect the health of building occupants.

General Safety Procedures

Everyone has probably been exposed to asbestos because it is so widely used. However, the health risks associated with asbestos are directly related to the amount and frequency of exposure. Decreasing exposure to asbestos will decrease the health risks associated with it. This can be done by following safe work practices and taking proper precautions.

The health risks associated with exposure to asbestos occur when it is disturbed and releases fibers into the air. To reduce exposure, it is important to know where asbestos is located and to minimize activities that will release fibers into the air. The potential for a particular form of asbestos to release fibers will depend on several factors including the degree of friability, wear, age, and location.

Exposure to asbestos fibers can be hazardous. The following general precautions will reduce exposure and lower the risk of asbestos related health problems:

  1. Drilling, sawing, or using nails on asbestos materials can release asbestos fibers and should be avoided.
  2. Floor tiles, ceiling tiles or adhesives that contain asbestos should never be sanded.
  3. Use care not to damage asbestos when moving furniture, ladders, or any other object.
  4. Know where asbestos is located in your work area. Use common sense when working around products that contain asbestos. Avoid touching or disturbing asbestos materials on walls, ceilings, pipes, ducts, or boilers.
  5. All asbestos containing materials should be checked periodically for damage or deterioration. Report any damage, change in condition, or loose asbestos containing material to a supervisor.
  6. All removal or repair work involving asbestos must be done by specially trained personnel. OSHA and EPA regulations are very specific about work practices and equipment required to work safely with asbestos. These requirements may include proper respirators, special enclosures, training, exposure monitoring, long term record keeping, and medical surveillance.
  7. Asbestos should always be handled wet to help prevent fibers from being released. If asbestos is soaked with water or a mixture of water and liquid detergent before it is handled, the fibers are too heavy to remain suspended in the air.
  8. In the presence of asbestos dust above the PEL, the use of a respirator approved for asbestos work is required. A dust mask is not acceptable because asbestos fibers will pass through it. The use of respirators must be approved by the Safety Office.
  9. Dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming dry asbestos with a standard vacuum cleaner will put the fibers back into the air. A vacuum cleaner with a special high efficiency filter (HEPA) must be used to vacuum asbestos dust.
  10. If a HEPA vacuum is not used cleanups must be done with a wet cloth or mop. The only exception to this would be if the moisture presents an additional hazard such as around electricity.
  11. Asbestos waste, including all clean up materials, must be sealed in a double 6-mil plastic asbestos bag and properly labeled before being disposed in an EPA approved landfill.

Remember, the mere presence of asbestos itself does not create a health hazard unless the material is disturbed and releases fibers to the atmosphere. Protect yourself and others by being aware of where asbestos is located, the dangers involved, and using common sense when working around ACM.

Safety Procedures for Housekeepers

Housekeepers and maintenance workers may come into close proximity to ACM during the performance of their job duties. During routine activities exposure to custodians is very low and does not pose a significant risk for the development of asbestos related disease. A recent study determined that custodians who performed routine activities in buildings that contained friable ACM were not exposed to airborne asbestos above the PEL.

If gradual deterioration or damage to ACM has occurred, asbestos-containing dust or debris could be present. Special cleaning practices should be used to collect residual asbestos dust. Routinely cleaning floors using wet methods is an example of one such practice. Custodial and maintenance workers should also identify and report areas that are in need of special cleaning or repair. Cleaning must be done properly because the use of improper techniques may result in widespread contamination, and increase air-borne asbestos fiber levels in the building. In addition, improper cleaning may cause damage to the ACM, thus releasing more airborne asbestos fibers.

Workers involved in cleaning up small quantities of asbestos dust must receive training in asbestos awareness. The following practices should be used:

  1. Always use wet cleaning or wet-wiping practices to pick up asbestos fibers. Dry sweeping or dusting can result in asbestos fibers being re-suspended and should never be used.
  2. Wet cloths, rags, or mops used to pick up asbestos fibers, should be properly disposed of as asbestos waste while still wet.
  3. The use of special vacuum cleaners known as HEPA vacuums may be preferable to wet cleaning in certain situations. Never use a regular vacuum cleaner to clean up asbestos dust. Workers should wear proper PPE when changing HEPA filters. Waste must be disposed of as asbestos waste.
  4. If ACM has been released onto a carpet it may be impossible to adequately clean the carpeted area. Consult with supervision prior to cleaning. Steam cleaning and HEPA vacuuming can be used. Proper respiratory protection may be necessary. This type of cleaning should be done after hours.

Asbestos Floor Tiles

The following procedures should be used when caring for asbestos containing floor tiles.

  1. Sanding of asbestos containing floor tiles is prohibited.
  2. Stripping of finishes shall be conducted using wet methods and low abrasion pads at speeds lower than 300 rpm. Do not perform dry stripping or overstrip the floor.
  3. When high speed buffing is done, ensure that there is adequate sealer and finish on the floor. Always keep the machine moving.
  4. Do not remove or attempt to repair loose floor tiles. Improperly removed asbestos containing floor tiles could result in the release of high levels of asbestos.
  5. Report loose floor tiles to supervision immediately. Avoid running the machine over loose tiles.

Asbestos Fiber Releases

Special procedures are needed to reduce the spread of asbestos fibers after a release of fibers has occurred, such as the partial collapse of an ACM ceiling or wall. Depending on the severity of the release, an asbestos contractor may be needed to conduct the cleanup operation. If fibers are released through an incident, personnel should take the following steps to reduce asbestos exposure to occupants until trained asbestos personnel arrive:

  1. Prevent access to the contaminated area if possible.
  2. Shut and lock doors.
  3. Report the damaged ACM to supervision.
  4. Remain in the area to direct asbestos personnel to the site.
  5. Do not attempt to clean up a release.

On occasion potentially large releases of asbestos fibers will occur. When this happens, supervision should be notified immediately. Supervision will notify the Asbestos Manager and the Safety Manager. They will conduct a joint evaluation of the release and determine what actions should be taken. A minor release episode is defined as three square or linear feet or less of friable ACM. A licensed asbestos contractor will be called to clean up releases greater than three square or linear feet. If the release is minor specially trained in-house personnel may clean-up the release using the following procedures:

  1. Secure the area and post signs to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering the area.
  2. If fibers could enter the HVAC system the unit should be shut down and sealed.
  3. Put on a half or full face respirator with HEPA cartridges.
  4. Put on a tyvek suit and gloves.
  5. Clean up loose asbestos with a HEPA vacuum, do not use a regular vacuum.
  6. If a HEPA vacuum is not available, wet down the area with amended water (water in which a few drops of liquid laundry detergent have been added).
  7. Place all trash into two 6-mil plastic labeled bags.
  8. Wipe the area clean.
  9. Properly dispose of waste.

10.0  Summary
The following key points should be remembered:

  1. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These health effects were noted primarily in workers exposed routinely to very high levels of asbestos on their jobs.
  2. The health effects from exposure to low-level amounts of asbestos fibers are not as well understood. Therefore, custodial/maintenance workers should exercise caution when working around ACM and try to minimize exposures.
  3. Three naturally occurring asbestos minerals, chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite, are commonly used in building products.
  4. Asbestos became a popular commercial product because of its strength, heat resistance, corrosion resistance, and thermal insulation properties.
  5. ACM is regulated by EPA, OSHA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and individual state and local agencies.
  6. Friable ACM can be found in about 700,000 public and commercial buildings. Many areas where asbestos is found are not accessible to the general public.
  7. Some common uses of asbestos included pipe/boiler insulation, spray-applied fireproofing, floor and ceiling tile, and cement pipe/sheeting.
  8. Positive identification of asbestos requires laboratory analysis. Information on labels or visual examination is not sufficient.
  9. Intact, undisturbed materials generally do not pose a health risk. Asbestos may become hazardous when damaged, disturbed, or deteriorated over time and release fibers into the air.
  10. If you smoke and work around asbestos your risks for developing asbestos related disease dramatically increase.
  11. Report all releases and damaged ACM to supervision. Do not attempt to clean up asbestos spills.
  12. Contractors are required to follow strict OSHA and EPA regulations when removing asbestos. Construction debris may be present after the contractor has left. This material will be free of asbestos.
  13. Always consult the Asbestos Management Plan to determine where ACM is located in your work area.

Asbestos Maintenance Policy

Before You:

  • Disturb Plaster Walls or Ceilings
  • Cut, drill, or grind floor tile or linoleum
  • Disturb piping and thermal system insulation
  • Cut and/or dispose of fire doors
  • Remove and/or dispose of transite (hardboard) material
  • Remove or disturb fireproofing

Check in the Asbestos Management Plan and verify if asbestos containing material will or is likely to be encountered or disturbed by activities of your work. If the answer is YES advise your supervisor.

In renovation and demolition work, if you encounter any material suspected of containing asbestos which is not identified in the Management Plan notify your supervisor.

Public Notice - Asbestos Containing Materials

Asbestos containing materials (ACM) are located in this building. The mere presence of asbestos does not mean that the health of building occupants is endangered. Intact and undisturbed asbestos materials do not pose a health risk. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only requires asbestos removal during building demolition or renovation, or if the ACM is significantly damaged. Removal of intact ACM is usually not the best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure because removal may create a hazard where none existed.

The EPA recommends a proactive, in-place management approach to control asbestos fiber release, particularly when the materials are not likely to have direct human contact or be significantly damaged. This program ensures that the daily management of the building is carried out in a manner that minimizes release of fibers. Periodic inspections are conducted and proper controls are implemented if ACM is damaged and fibers are released. The university complies with EPA recommendations and has implemented an in-place management program to protect employees and building occupants from exposure to asbestos fibers.

Occupants of the building are cautioned not to damage or disturb ACM. If you plan to drill, cut, demolish or disturb any wall, ceiling or floor in this building, please contact the Safety Office at 831-7790 to determine if ACM is present before you proceed. If you see any material that is of concern or you wish to know the location of ACM in your building or have any questions concerning asbestos, please contact the Safety Office.

Operations & Maintenance Plan

1.0  Introduction

An Operation and Maintenance Program is designed to manage asbestos in place to safeguard the health of building occupants. This is accomplished by training, cleaning, work practices, and inspections to maintain ACM in good condition. Removal is often not the best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. The O&M program is designed to prevent asbestos fiber release and control fiber releases if they occur. A well-run O&M program may be all that is necessary to control the release of fibers. Emphasizing the importance and effectiveness of a good O&M program is critical to putting the potential hazards of asbestos exposure in proper perspective. Basic O&M procedures to minimize and/or contain asbestos fibers may include wet methods, HEPA vacuuming, area isolation, PPE, and avoidance of certain activities, such as sawing, sanding, and drilling ACM.

2.0  Management

The Safety Office maintains the Asbestos Management Plan for the university and coordinates the asbestos abatement program. The objective of the plan is to identify and maintain, in safe condition, asbestos-containing material (ACM) in university buildings. The Plan also addresses emergency response procedures, recordkeeping, training, and housekeeping procedures. The management of the ACM is an involved and ongoing process with observations, assessments, and possible response actions occurring daily. The plan is arranged for quick reference by maintenance and housekeeping personnel, campus contractors and vendors, and other university employees. The Plan is kept in the Safety Office, Facilities Management, Housekeeping, and the Police Department. 

3.0  Inspections

All buildings on campus have been surveyed for ACM. Campus areas containing ACM are identified on floor plans. Asbestos containing materials on campus are assessed semi-annually by Safety Office personnel to determine their condition. The materials condition is compared to the condition of the last assessment and changes are noted to determine which management option is needed. Conditions that require a response will be reported to supervision. The Safety Office maintains maps showing the location of asbestos containing materials on campus. If you have a concern about ACM in your area please call the Safety Office.

4.0  Signs & Labels

Warning signs have been placed at all entrances to mechanical rooms containing ACM. Pipes containing asbestos insulation have been labeled.

5.0  Public Notifications

Public notices have been placed in all buildings on campus that contain ACM.  Notification is given by the Safety Office to appropriate departments when an abatement activity is scheduled. The information given to building occupants contains the following points:

  1. The location and condition of the ACM in their area.
  2. Asbestos only presents a health hazard when fibers become airborne and are inhaled. The mere presence of ACM does not present a health hazard.
  3. Do not disturb the ACM.
  4. Report any evidence of disturbance or damage of ACM to supervision.
  5. Report any dust or debris that might come from the ACM or any changes in the condition of ACM to supervision.
  6. Cleaning and maintenance personnel are taking special precautions to guard against disturbing ACM.
  7. All ACM is inspected periodically and additional measures will be taken if needed to protect the health of building occupants.

6.0  Training

1.  All Facilities Management & Housekeeping personnel are given a two hour asbestos awareness training session ever year by the Safety Office. The training class addresses the following subjects:

    Asbestos material description and definition.
    Uses and forms in building materials.
    Health effects.
    Location of ACM on campus.
    Recognition of damage.
    Emergency procedures.

2.  Safety Office personnel and other workers trained in asbestos removal operations attend annual refresher training courses.

7.0  Abatement Activities

  1. A small crew of workers in Facilities Management have taken a 16-hour Asbestos Operations & Maintenance course. This crew is restricted to removing only non-friable asbestos floor tiles at the university.  Removal operations are limited to less than 10ft squared. Only hand tools and wet methods will be used.  Respirators, tyvek suits, and medical evaluations are not required. Air monitoring of workers is required if the work may exceed the P.E.L.
  2. Asbestos removal operations involving friable asbestos floor tiles, sprayed or trowled on ACM, thermal system ACM, ceiling tile, pipe insulation, glove bagging or large spill cleanups will be contracted to an asbestos abatement firm by the Safety Office.
  3. Safety Office personnel have received the 40 hour asbestos/worker supervisors course and may clean up small spills (single 5 ft x 5 ft glove bag). 
  4. EPA will be notified if the annual total of asbestos abated by university personnel exceeds 160 sq. ft.


8.0  Medical Surveillance Program

  1. The university does not include its asbestos workers in a medical surveillance program because workers are not exposed to asbestos fibers above the OSHA action level for more than 30 days per year.
  2. If respiratory protection is required, workers will be medically evaluated per OSHA regulations. Safety Office personnel have been medically evaluated and are permitted to wear respirators.

9.0  Maintenance work practices

  1. All maintenance workers are advised of the proper procedures to follow when their work involves possible contact with  ACM. The "Asbestos Maintenance Policy" is posted on the employees bulletin board and addresses procedures and precautionary considerations for daily maintenance activities.
  2. When building renovation activities are planned, the supervisor in charge conducts a detailed assessment of the project area to see if any ACM will be encountered. The supervisor will review the Asbestos Management Plan and contact the Safety Office if necessary to determine what material has been identified and reviews building plans to see if ACM may be revealed by the renovation being conducted. The supervisor in charge will verify the project area as asbestos free or ACM will not be disturbed during renovation activities.

10.0  Safe Work Practices

General Safety Procedures

The following general precautions should be followed to reduce exposure and lower the risk of asbestos related health problems:

  1. Drilling, sawing, or using nails on asbestos materials can release asbestos fibers and should be avoided.
  2. Floor tiles, ceiling tiles or adhesives that contain asbestos should never be sanded.
  3. Use care not to damage asbestos when moving furniture, ladders, or any other object.
  4. Know where asbestos is located in your work area. Use common sense when working around products that contain asbestos. Avoid touching or disturbing asbestos materials on walls, ceilings, pipes, ducts, or boilers.
  5. All asbestos containing materials should be checked periodically for damage or deterioration. Report any damage, change in condition, or loose asbestos containing material to a supervisor.
  6. All sampling, removal, or repair work involving asbestos must be done by specially trained personnel. OSHA and EPA regulations are very specific about work practices and equipment required to work safely with asbestos. These requirements may include proper respirators, special enclosures, training, exposure monitoring, long term record keeping, and medical surveillance.
  7. Asbestos should always be handled wet to help prevent fibers from being released. If asbestos is soaked with water or a mixture of water and liquid detergent before it is handled, the fibers are too heavy to remain suspended in the air.
  8. In the presence of asbestos dust above the PEL, the use of a respirator approved for asbestos work is required. A dust mask is not acceptable because asbestos fibers will pass through it. The use of respirators must be approved by the Safety Office.
  9. Dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming dry asbestos with a standard vacuum cleaner will put the fibers back into the air. A vacuum cleaner with a special high efficiency filter (HEPA) must be used to vacuum asbestos dust.
  10. If a HEPA vacuum is not used cleanups must be done with a wet cloth or mop. The only exception to this would be if the moisture presents an additional hazard such as around electricity.
  11. Asbestos waste, including all clean up materials, must be sealed in a double 6-mil plastic asbestos bag and properly labeled before being disposed in an EPA approved landfill.
  12. Remember, the mere presence of asbestos itself does not create a health hazard unless the material is disturbed and releases fibers to the atmosphere. Protect yourself and others by being aware of where asbestos is located, the dangers involved, and using common sense when working around ACM.

Stripping Asbestos Floor Tiles

The following procedures should be used when caring for asbestos containing floor tiles.

  1. Sanding of asbestos containing floor tiles is prohibited.
  2. Stripping of finishes shall be conducted using wet methods and low abrasion pads at speeds lower than 300 rpm. Do not perform dry stripping or overstrip the floor.
  3. When high speed buffing is done, ensure that there is adequate sealer and finish on the floor. Always keep the machine moving.
  4. Do not remove or attempt to repair loose floor tiles. Improperly removed asbestos containing floor tiles could result in the release of high levels of asbestos.
  5. Report loose floor tiles to supervision immediately. Avoid running the machine over loose tiles.

Asbestos Floor Tile Removal

  1. Do not remove 9 in. x 9 in. or 1 ft. x 1ft.   floor tiles unless you have have received proper training or the tiles and mastic have been tested and found to be free of asbestos.
  2. Removal of tiles and mastic containing asbestos must be performed by individuals who have taken a 16-hour Asbestos Operations & Maintenance course.
  3. Notify the Safety Office before beginning the work. Only non-friable asbestos floor tiles may be removed by university personnel.
  4. Removal operations by university personnel are limited to less than 10 sq. ft. and only hand tools can be used.
  5. Respirators, tyvek suits, and medical evaluations are not required. Air monitoring of workers is not required if historical data is available for the procedure.
  6. Restrict access to the area.
  7. Mist the floor with amended water until completely wet.
  8. Using a wide blade, attempt to pry the floor tile loose without breaking.
  9. Mist the removed area with amended water prior to scraping the underlying mastic. If mastic solvent is used, extinguish all flames in the immediate area and ensure that there is adequate ventilation.
  10. Wet wipe or HEPA vacuum the removal area.
  11. Place the tiles, mastic, and any contaminated materials into double 6-mil plastic disposal bags that are properly labeled for asbestos disposal.
  12. Keep the asbestos waste at the site and notify the Safety Office for proper disposal.
  13. Clearance samples are not required if less than 160 sq. ft. have been removed using procedures in which historical data exists.

11.0  Emergency Procedures

Clean up of asbestos spills must be performed by specially trained personnel. OSHA and EPA regulations are very specific about work practices and equipment required to work safely with asbestos. These requirements may include respiratory protection, special enclosures, training, exposure monitoring, record keeping, and medical surveillance. Proper procedures must be followed to reduce the spread of asbestos fibers after a release has occurred, such as the partial collapse of a ceiling containing spray-on asbestos. Depending on the severity of the release, an asbestos contractor may be called to conduct the cleanup operation.

Initial Response and Notification

1. If a release or suspected release of asbestos fibers occurs, take the following general steps to reduce exposure to occupants until trained asbestos personnel arrive:

    Prevent access to the contaminated area if possible.
    Shut and lock doors.
    Report the spill or suspected spill to the University Police Department.
    Remain in a safe area and direct clean up personnel to the site.
    Do not attempt to clean up the release.

2. The Police Department will:

    Immediately call the Safety Office.
    Evacuate people in the immediate vicinity of the spill.
    Prevent access to the site until cleanup personnel arrive.
    Call the HVAC department if the spill is greater than one square foot.

3. Safety Office personnel will assess the spill and determine if in-house personnel can clean up the spill or an asbestos contractor should be called.

Specific Emergency Procedures

Major Release

  1. If the spill is greater than the amount that would fill a single 5 ft x 5 ft glove bag, the Safety Office will call a licensed asbestos contractor to clean up the spill.
  2. The Safety Office and Police Department will ensure that the site is secured until the arrival of the asbestos contractor.
  3. The Ventilation System will be shut off.
  4. The Safety Office, Facilities Management, and the Police Department will consult and determine if an evacuation of the area or building is necessary. If necessary, the Police Director or Safety Manager will order an evacuation and notify the Vice President for Business Affairs, Director of Facility Planning & Construction, Director of Facilities, Assistant Vice President for Communications, and other appropriate university officials. The Vice President for Business Affairs will notify the President, if appropriate.


Minor Release

  1. A minor release is the quantity of ACM that would fill a single 5 ft x 5 ft glove bag. The Safety Office will assess the spill and clean up minor releases. Spills greater than this amount will be cleaned up by a licensed contractor.
  2. Workers involved in cleaning up small quantities of asbestos must receive at least 16 hours of training in asbestos management.
  3. The following procedures should be used to clean up small releases:
    1. Secure the area and post signs to prevent unauthorized access to the area.
    2. Assess the potential for fiber release and the need for PPE.
    3. If fibers could enter the HVAC system shut down and seal the unit.
    4. Put on proper respiratory protection (ensure that HEPA cartridges are used).
    5. Put on gloves and a Tyvek suit if necessary.
    6. To prevent asbestos fibers from being re-suspended wet down the area with amended water (water in which a few drops of liquid laundry detergent have been added).
    7. Do not pick up dry asbestos containing materials.
    8. Pick up large pieces. Using a scraper push small pieces of debris into a pile, working towards the center of the spill (do not use a brush) Wipe the area with a wet rag or vacuum with a HEPA vacuum, do not use a regular vacuum.
    9. Deposit all debris into a double 6-mil plastic asbestos bag, seal, and dispose of as asbestos waste (do not dispose of the bag in the regular trash).
    10. Take clearance samples before re-occupancy of the area.

Containment

  1. Asbestos workers can breach containment for life threatening emergencies. Non-asbestos workers can enter containment without proper PPE
  2. Non-life threatening emergencies that occur in containment (e.g., cut water line) shall be reported immediately to the Safety Office. The Safety Office will assess the situation and determine what PPE is needed by non-asbestos workers. Non-asbestos workers are not to enter the containment until permission has been obtained from the Safety Office.  

Equipment

The following equipment is available to clean up asbestos spills:

  • HEPA vacuums located in the Allen Building, and Plaster/Mason closet
  • Half and full face respirators
  • PAPR respirators
  • HEPA cartridges
  • Tyvek coveralls
  • 6-mil plastic bags
  • Dust pans, squeegees
  • Spray bottles
  • Personal and area sampling pumps
  • Warning tape and signs
  • Sealant

12.0  Contractors

Vendor Notification - Materiel Management & Contracts

A building asbestos survey has been conducted and an inventory of known asbestos containing material is on file in the Safety Office. Before you begin work you are advised to consult the inventory listing and determine if the activities of your work will disturb identified materials. If so, advise the Director of Materiel Management & Contracts before work commences. Further, if during the execution of your work, should you encounter materials which you believe may contain asbestos, you shall notify the Director of Materiel Management & Contracts before proceeding.

Contractor Notification - Capital Outlay & Construction

Reference Section 48 of Capital Outlay General Conditions reproduced below:

48. Asbestos

(a)  This subsection applies to projects involving existing buildings where asbestos abatement is not a part of the work, when the scope of the project has been reviewed and a comprehensive survey conducted by an individual licensed by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to conduct building inspections for asbestos containing materials in buildings, and where the Owner has attempted  to remove or encapsulate all asbestos containing material that may become friable or damaged during this project.

Prior to commencement of work, the results of the comprehensive survey or any other asbestos survey shall be made available to the Contractor, who shall be responsible for performing his work so as not to disturb any remaining asbestos, encapsulated or otherwise, identified in such survey or surveys.

If the Contractor discovers or inadvertently disturbs any material that he knows, should have known or has reason to believe, may contain asbestos that has not been previously identified, was overlooked during the removal, was deemed not to be friable or was encapsulated, the Contractor shall stop work in the area containing or suspected to contain the asbestos, secure the area, and notify the Owner and the Architect/Engineer immediately by telephone or in person with written notice as soon as possible. The Owner will have the suspect material sampled.

If the sample is positive and must be disturbed in the course of the work, the Owner shall have the material repaired or removed and shall pay for the bulk sample analysis.

Except as provided in §11-4.1 of the Code of Virginia, if the material disturbed is not within the Contractor's authorized work  and/or work area or under this Contract, the Contractor shall pay for all associated sampling and abatement costs.

(b)  If asbestos abatement is included as a part of the work, the contractor shall assure that the asbestos abatement work is accomplished by those duly licensed as described in Section 3 of these General Conditions and in accordance with the specific requirements of the Contract and all applicable laws and regulations.

(c)  If asbestos abatement is included as part of the work, the licensed asbestos Subcontractor shall obtain the insurance required under Section 11 (e) of these General Conditions.

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